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Abstract

This thesis consists of three essays focusing on different perspectives of social and economic development in China. The first paper studies the in-group bias of groups with a stigmatized identity by conducting a field experiment in a Chinese prison. In the experiment, inmates are given the opportunity to work for a charity. We find evidence of both pro-sociality and in-group favoritism among inmates. The second paper estimates the magnitude and pattern of the impact of straw burning on urban air quality in China. It exploits the daily variations in straw burning activities and air pollution with a difference-in-differences strategy and finds a large and significant effect of straw fires on air pollution. This effect decreases over time but remains significant for at least eight days. It is larger for upwind fires and is limited with a lower wind speed. The third paper investigates how the policy preference of local leaders in China is shaped by their early-life experience of China’s Great Famine. Combining the biographical information of the County Party Secretaries with the county-level fiscal data, it finds that the local leaders with a more severe famine experience in early childhood would increase fiscal expenditures on agriculture and social security. They also reduce agricultural tax. As a result, it leads to the development of agricultural sector.

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